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Is Pre Workout A Steroid? (Or Is Pre Workout Natty?)

Pre workout is used by many to help improve performance and focus when in the gym.

But is it allowed in natural bodybuilding competitions and is it considered natty?

Read on to find the answer.

Is Pre Workout A Steroid?

When people talk about steroids in the bodybuilding industry, they’re generally referring to anabolic steroids, like Deca, Anadrol and Dianabol.

These are used to increase testosterone levels with the aim of increasing muscle mass and strength.

So on that front, pre workout isn’t a steroid as no pre workout supplements include these ingredients.

However, according to Healthline, pre workout supplements are classed as ‘legal steroids’.

Apparently, this is a term used for all muscle building supplements that aren’t ‘illegal’.

(I’m not so sure whether I agree with that!)

In this article, we will explain what natty means, whether pre workout is a drug, whether pre workout is a banned substance, and if there are any natural bodybuilders who use it.

Is Pre Workout Natty?

Yes – pre workout is natty as it’s allowed in natural bodybuilding competitions. However, some bodybuilders would disagree as they believe that no supplements are considered natty.

What Does Natty Mean?

‘Natty’ is short for ‘natural’ in bodybuilders lingo.

But depending on who you ask, natty can have multiple meanings.

For example, some bodybuilders believe that to be natty, you need to consume no supplements at all.

Logically, this argument is flawed.


Well, many supplements out there like creatine and amino acids are found naturally in food.

So it makes no sense to call it out as unnatural if it’s part of the food we eat.

On the other hand, most bodybuilders agree that natty means you don’t take any banned PEDs (Performance-Enhancing Drugs).

In other words, you rely on diet, training and approved supplements by the world anti-doping agency to achieve your physique.

Is Pre Workout A Drug?

Pre workout itself isn’t a supplement – it’s a powder comprised of many different supplements.

So with that in mind, pre workout isn’t a drug, but it may contain drugs.

Since most pre workouts contain caffeine (which is a drug), you could argue that most pre workouts contain drugs.

(Funny story – a popular pre workout supplement, Craze, was blacklisted by the US military after some soldiers failed drug tests. In turned out the manufactures added crystal meth-like compounds to the pre workout. No wonder it was voted’s 2012 Supplement Of The Year!)

Is Pre Workout Illegal?

Going back to the story above, pre workout isn’t illegal, but in rare instances, it may contain illegal compounds.

Now obviously, the illegal compounds won’t be included in the ingredients list, as the company wouldn’t be able to market it if it stated it had illegal ingredients.

And so, it’s best to buy pre workout from a company you can trust.

While most pre workout labels say they are not recommended for use under the age of 18, it’s still legal to buy if you’re under 18.

(At least in the United States…)

Is Pre Workout A Banned Substance?

Again, when we’re talking about pre workout, we’re really talking about the individual ingredients that make up pre workout.

Well, most pre workouts out there are legit and contain no banned substances.

But there are a small minority that include an ingredient called DMAA.

This is an amphetamine-like substance that was added to pre workouts to help improve fat loss and physical performance.

DMAA was recently banned by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) after many health problems and even deaths were linked to its use.

In one instance, a healthy 22-year-old male suffered a heart attack after consuming a supplement called Jack3d, which contained DMAA.

So when buying pre workout supplements, make sure to stay clear from DMAA which can be listed on product labels as below:

  • 1,3-DMAA
  • 1,3-Dimethylamylamine
  • 1,3-Dimethylpentylamine
  • 2-Amino-4-methylhexane
  • 2-Hexanamine, 4-methyl- (9CI)
  • 4-Methyl-2-hexanamine
  • 4-Methyl-2-hexylamine
  • Dimethylamylamine
  • Geranamine
  • Methylhexanamine
  • Methylhexanenamine

(Related Reading: Taking Pre Workout Before A Drugs Test? Read This First!)

Do Natural Bodybuilders Use Pre Workout?

Yes – since pre workout isn’t a banned substance (for the most part…), many natural bodybuilders use it to improve their workouts.

For example, Miami Pro winner and international DJ Joel Corry swears by Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre Workout.

Another example is the WBFF European Champion winner Ross Dickerson who’s a big fan of EHPlabs Buzz.

3 Examples Of Unnatty Substances In Bodybuilding

Growth Hormones

Growth hormones like HGH (Human Growth Hormone), IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor-1) and insulin are banned within the WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation).

Hormone Precursors

Hormone precursors, such as DHEA (which converts into testosterone), are also banned by the WNBF.

Anabolic Steroids

There are many types of Anabolic Steroids.

We’ve already touched upon Deca, Anadrol and Dianabol earlier in the article.

These are all ‘unnatty’ and are banned from competitions as they help jack up your testosterone levels, which gives you an unfair advantage.

Testosterone itself is also banned in most forms.

(It’s often prescribed as gels, cream and patches.)


To summarize, the majority of people would class pre workout as natty.

While some pre workouts include ingredients that aren’t natty, these are typically illegal, unsafe and have been removed from the market (in the most part).

Well, that’s all for this article guys.😊

I hope I’ve answered your question in as much detail as possible, but if you do have any further queries, I’ll happily address these in the comments below.

Bye for now.


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